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Checa, Antonio G.; Yanez-Avila, Maria E.; Gonzalez-Segura, Alicia; Varela-Feria, Francisco; Griesshaber, Erika; Schmahl, Wolfgang W. (March 2019): Bending and branching of calcite laths in the foliated microstructure of pectinoidean bivalves occurs at coherent crystal lattice orientation. In: Journal of Structural Biology, Vol. 205, No. 3: pp. 7-17
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Foliated calcite is widely employed by some important pteriomorph bivalve groups as a construction material. It is made from calcite laths, which are inclined at a low angle to the internal shell surface, although their arrangement is different among the different groups. They are strictly ordered into folia in the anomiids, fully independent in scallops, and display an intermediate arrangement in oysters. Pectinids have particularly narrow laths characterized by their ability to change their growth direction by bending or winding, as well as to bifurcate and polyfurcate. Electron backscatter analysis indicates that the c-axes of laths are at a high, though variable, angle to the growth direction, and that the laths grow preferentially along the projection of an intermediate axis between two a-axes, although they can grow in any intermediate direction. Their main surfaces are not particular crystallographic faces. Analyses done directly on the lath surfaces demonstrate that, during the bending/branching events, all crystallographic axes remain invariant. The growth flexibility of pectinid laths makes them an excellent space-filling material, well suited to level off small irregularities of the shell growth surface. We hypothesize that the exceptional ability of laths to change their direction may be promoted by the mode of growth of biogenic calcite, from a precursor liquid phase induced by organic molecules.